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Stanley Cup Final

Krug making mark for Bruins in Cup Final, shies away from Orr comparisons

Defenseman dominant on power play, delivering big hits against Blues

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

ST. LOUIS -- The Bobby Orr comparisons keep following Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug around in the Stanley Cup Final.

It's getting uncomfortable for him.

"Bobby Orr is probably the greatest influencer in the game of hockey itself," Krug said. "You really can't compare yourself in any way shape or form to him."

 

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

 

He's not. Others are. With perspective, but for good reasons.

In Game 1, it was a helmetless Krug flying through the air after laying a crushing and legal hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas. A still photo of Krug airborne brought back memories of Orr's famous flying, Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal in Game 4 against the Blues in 1970.

Video: STL@BOS, Gm1: Krug lays huge check on Thomas

In Game 3, it was Krug doing something neither Orr nor any Bruins player ever did, scoring four points in a Stanley Cup Final game on a goal and three assists, all on the power play, in a 7-2 Bruins win that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Krug became the fourth player in NHL history to score four points on the power play in a Cup Final game, joining Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens (Game 5, 1965), Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders (Game 3, 1980) and Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche (Game 2, 1996).

Game 4 is at Enterprise Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"He was great making plays happen even in our own zone, getting the puck out, skating and really seeing the forwards open and finding ways to get the puck to us," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "On the power play, obviously, he was making some tremendous plays to find us. He's been huge for us all year and again he showed it."

Video: BOS@STL,Gm3: Krug nets Bruins' third PPG

It's almost as if the Bruins have been waiting for everyone else to notice Krug. Prior to the series, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said he felt Krug's ability to defend and play physical was underappreciated outside the Bruins locker room. 

"When I said that it was in the context of he was an offensive defenseman, a power-play specialist, and people don't realize how hard he is when he wants to play that physical game," Cassidy said after Game 3. "And he does play big minutes against good players with [Brandon] Carlo. That's something that has changed a little bit. We used [Matt Grzelcyk] a little in that role last year, Johnny Moore some earlier, but Torey stepped up and he wanted that responsibility to be a second pair-type guy behind [Zdeno Chara] playing good lines, and he's met the challenge. He's done a really good job of flying under the radar, and he still has the points on the power play."

Perhaps Krug's performance in the Cup Final will signal a newfound national respect for the 5-foot-9, 28-year-old defenseman.

Krug played in the Stanley Cup Final with the Bruins against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, but he had no points in the six games and the Bruins lost. The Bruins didn't get out of the second round again until this season.

He has played in 462 regular-season games and has 288 points (58 goals, 230 assists) with the Bruins, making him well known in Boston, but his overall game is getting some national attention now, especially because it's coming with Krug's expected production.

He has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 20 games in the playoffs, tied for first among defensemen with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks. He is also third on the Bruins with 28 blocks to go along with 26 hits.

Video: BOS@STL, Gm3: Johansson tacks on late PPG

"Torey is obviously a great skater, really skilled playmaker, but he plays big, much bigger than his size," Chara said. "We saw that in previous rounds. He became one of those guys that he doesn't get intimidated, plays physical when he needs to. I think that's very encouraging for our group to see someone not overly big but plays big."

But Krug's impact on the power play in Game 3 has left the biggest imprint on the series so far. Boston scored four goals on four shots, all created by Krug at the top of the zone.

"He's a guy who is very intelligent up top [on the power play]," Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. "You look at the best power-play defensemen in the League, they have a deception to their game where they kind of keep you on your toes. They're not moving the puck staring at a guy. They're making it tougher on your reads. He does a great job." 

Krug reacts well to adjustments too, especially because of the way he can break down options on the power play with Cassidy, a former defenseman who played a similar role as Krug.

"The conversations are pretty fluid in that way because we're on the same page," Cassidy said.

The conversations after Game 2 involved better ways to get the puck to the net through Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

Video: BOS@STL, Gm3: Krug on setting B's record, Game 3 win

Krug was playing closer to the half-wall in Games 1 and 2, but the Bruins weren't effective. They scored two power play goals off rush plays, but they were erratic with the puck when the offensive zone and didn't have the mentality to shoot and run their power play off the shot. 

In Game 3, they ran their power play through Krug up at the top of the zone. It was clean and efficient.

Bergeron scored off a deflection of Krug's shot from the blue line. Pastrnak scored after Krug found him with a high-low pass to the slot. Krug scored on a deflected shot from the right circle. Marcus Johansson scored off a pass from Krug after he faked a shot up top.

"I take a lot of pride in being a very knowledgeable hockey player," Krug said. "[Cassidy] gives us a lot of queues, when the opposing team does a certain thing to look for this or that. I'm just pretty comfortable with it."

He's just not comfortable with the comparisons to Orr. 

Krug called them "pretty ridiculous" after his hit on Thomas and he has a point, but the more he does in the Cup Final the better the chances get that he'll go down in Bruins' lore in ways like No. 4.

"Ask me again in a couple weeks," Krug said.  

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